Friday, January 31, 2014

Marathon Goals

Last June, I had a new experience. I attended my first Marathon in person. Nancy and I were asked to help provide security for the 37th Annual Grandma's Marathon here in Duluth. This race included two half marathons, the National Championship Half Marathon for women vying for the Olympics, a wheelchair marathon and the full marathon.  Our primary responsibility was to watch for suspicious activity and watch for runners in trouble. I spent just over 8 hours standing in the middle of the road watching as over 14,000 runners and wheelchair racers passed by. I was roughly a little over a mile from the finish line. The home stretch for these racers. 17,000 racers started the races.

The weather was low fifties for the entire race, with a cold east wind coming in off of Lake Superior. The last half of the race also brought rain showers. 

I was impressed with the leaders of each race as they came through. As I looked at their faces, you could see focus. They were focused on the outcome, the goal, the win, the record, and seemed to be barely bothered by the weather and other things going on around them. I was very impressed with their determination. Watching them was inspiring. I could not believe the pace they were running near the end of the race. 

Later, most of the runners came through walking. They would run a few steps and then walk some more. Some were texting or talking on the phone. It was as if their goal had become to just finish the race. Maybe that was their goal from the start. While there didn't seem to be much passion, they were still in the race. About 3000 dropped out completely.  There are many reasons to drop out of a race: not being prepared; the weather; injuries; and hypothermia was a big key that day. I don't believe a single person wanted to drop out, but circumstances that they had no control over prevented them from finishing. 

The previous year, an older gentleman collapsed on the course from a heart attack. He did not have a heart beat and was not breathing when rescuers got to him. He came back in this race and finished the full marathon. 

As you think about your goals, remember, there may be some factors that you have absolutely no control over. Don't focus on them. Focus on the things that you can control. Regardless, you have the option to determine how you will finish. Will you be a runner, a walker, or drop out completely? 

"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that."     -- Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

Finish Strong! You are AWESOME!

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